Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Ascilite 2011 - what a buzz!

Hobart harbour from Wrest Point
Hobart is the venue for this year's Ascilite conference and I love it - probably because it is so like Dunedin. It even has a hill with a pregnant woman shape just like at home, and the plants are very similar. The conference has had some really interesting topics. People really are doing some amazing innovations and research. I was particularly impressed with Gilly Salmon's keynote and the plenary sessions on the first day. It was hard to move from there as everything was so interesting. More about that later. Gilly told us about the Media Zoo, (she developed this while at the University of Leicester) to promote PD for learning design using a metaphor - different animals represent different types of professional development projects. She also invited people to contribute examples of good practice in onine facilitation for her new e-tivities book coming out soon.

Following my presentation I got talking to Belinda Allen and Kathryn Coleman about ePortfolios and their ideas of creativity that they mentioned in their talk. Kathryn told me about the Assessment toolkit they had developed at the University of New South Wales.  It looks good. I was fairly pleased with my presentation - Is reflective writing an enigma? (Also in the title - Can preparing evidence for an electronic portfolio develop skills for reflective practice?) As soon as I get home I will record some audio to accompany it - otherwise it doesn't mean much. I was asked lots of questions after the session and during fodder breaks. The Reflective Framework provoked lots of discussion which was excellent. I will post more later once I get to some decent broadband - balancing the laptop on my knee at my motel door to get connectivity means the post is going to be short.Check out the wonderful art created by Gilly's partner (I presume) who also does this kind of artwork for her presentations. He drew this as she talked about the different areas of scaffolding. Building the scaffold in action.

Building a scaffold for future learning by Gilly Salmon

Sunday, April 17, 2011

using mobile learning to stimulate critical thinking

The mobile Phone 1974 by catmachine
I am a little behind the eight ball with my responses to the discussions, so you are forgiven if this topic is well forgotten. I was intrigued to read about the M4Lit project where phones are being used to engage teens in creative storytelling and interactive writing. Sabine has responded on the group email with a great post discussing the merits of reading and writing for stimulating critical thinking. " ... reading and writing is the most important, and most efficient way to develop critical thinking".  Here I am using material from my Doctorate thesis (in progress) to support this claim.  For example, Menary (2007) claims “writing is thinking” (p. 361) because writing helps to re-structure and manipulate a person's thoughts.  

However, there is also the belief that guided thinking needs to occur before writing reflectively and critically, using dialogue for stimulating critical thinking. In any case, I believe it is important to develop critical thinking skills, but these may or may not be associated with the capacity to write reflectively and critically.  If a tool such as a mobile phone can capture the interest of students to engage in activities which stimulate critical thinking this is a good thing.  I don't believe we should despair if reading and writing is not a component, because critical thinking can also occur when viewing multimedia, and engaging in conversations - if the right prompts are in place. There is plenty of evidence that guided reflection can stimulate critical reflection (Fook & Gardner, 2007; Reiman, 1999).  In my opinion, we need to move away from reading and writing as the only way to see evidence of critical thinking, and embrace other exciting methods of stimulating evidence of critical thinking. 

It may well include writing, but for example, if students uploaded images to Flickr, or Youtube or their blog or ePortfolio etc, and using quiding questions were encouraged to reflect critically on the meaning of the images or video sequence, they could write or speak (through using an audio recording) or video to describe the meaning of the image or video, or other material, wouldn't this be more fun than preparing the traditional essay? All this could be done directly from their mobile phone.

Fook, J., & Gardner, F. (2007). Practising critical reflection. A resource handbook. New York: Open University Press.
Menary, R. (2007). Writing as thinking. Language Sciences, 29, 621–632.
Reiman, A. (1999). The evolution of the social role taking and guided reflection framework in teacher education: Recent theory and quantitative synthesis of research. Teaching and Teacher Education 15 (1999) 15, 597-612.


Thursday, April 07, 2011

Sharing how I use my mobile device for learning

My response to week 1 questions in MobileMOOC
1.      Share how you use your mobile device now, is there any learning you do at this point?
I take pics of whiteboard work in class - like the one above - and video on my mobile phone - a Nokia, and this week started sending directly to Flickr and Youtube, and also to my blog. It is so easy, and saves all that downloading and uploading. I have added my blog, youtube and Flickr emails addresses to my contacts so it is now quick to do.   I am not sure what the cost will be yet but work pays for it.

I wonder how students feel about the extra costs if asked to use their mobile phones for this sort of thing?

2.      Pick one of the following mLearning tools: qr-codes, pictures taken via mobile device, movies via mobile device, ... and show us how you would use it for learning via either a descriptive picture, movie taken with a mobile device.

I have uploaded pics taken of the whiteboard in the classroom to Flickr - as shown above, and also to my blog - as you can see here. I have also taken a short video on my nokia cellphone and sent it to You tube. I don't fully understand QR codes and will give it a go. Starting with QR planet and Kaywa.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

learning to send images to blogger from my mobile

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I just joined the mobimooc google group to undertake an open course about mobile learning. These are the two photos I sent via email on my phone - my provider does not support SMS posting. I am going to try connecting my posts on my blog with the Google group - that should be interesting - to save me having to post in two places.

Now I have finally set up my cell phone contacts with email addresses for blogger, flickr and youtube so I can send photos directly to these accounts. Next I will connect with twitter and facebook so I am truly mobile. Although it took me a bit of time getting set up, it is going to save me so much time in the long phone. I now have my eye on an iphone4, but realistically I should use the Nokia which has basic features which most students have, and will allow me to work to the commonest denominator. 

Really what is the point in having fancy features on my cell phone, while I am learning what is possible, if my students don't have the same capacity on theirs?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Online tools

Wordle: online tools
Online learning
I have been preparing a presentation about some of the tools used at Otago Polytechnic for online learning. While searching the Moodle and WikiEducator courses it became apparent that a number of different approaches and tools are being used. Simply using standardised platforms does not provide any sort of consistency. Many teachers are using their creativity and selecting a wide range of tools to add variety to the interactions. In some cases, the portability of materials is not always considered, and many teachers are forgetting to use formats (such as pdf or slideshare for presentations instead of powerpoint) which students can easily access. It would also be beneficial if more courses on Moodle were open as this would show potential students what they are going to learn. Open Education Practices: A User Guide for Organisations addresses most of the issues.

For example on most Moodle courses there are a number of documents in Microsoft Word or Powerpoint formats, and this could be problematic for students who do not have this software. It is quick and easy to use something like Rich text or pdf format instead of Word, and iSpring to convert powerpoints to shock wave files or even to upload them to slideshare or bliptv. Conversion of video is also important and mp4 is the ideal format for Moodle.